Wednesday, September 6, 2023


Last year's tour in the Flanders region of Belgium was the first with panniers for a couple of friends we toured with. They enjoyed it and were eager to repeat the experience for another self-arranged, self-guided tour.

Team of four then for an August adventure.
From left: Barbara, Ant (me), Deb, and Flavio - here at Stephansdom in Vienna.

Except for the demanding Flanders' "walls", last year's tour developed mainly on flat terrain between enchanting cities without technical difficulties or long climbs.
The four of us are experienced cyclists and take MTB adventures at home in Northwestern Italy so I thought of planning a closed-loop tour on a higher level of difficulty. Somewhere in Europe and within reach by car.
The train option would be the best for environmental concerns but still not so practical for certain destinations.

After thousands of touring miles we opted to dismiss the old bikes in favor of new ones. Still good, but newer is better – and 3 Kg (almost 7 lb) lighter. Aluminum hardtail MTBs with riser bars, dual chainrings, 22/36 lowest gear, and 700c “gravel” tires.
Well tested before use, they proved sturdy and reliable, and quite comfortable for long hours on the saddle.
Total weight of each fully loaded bike including the rear panniers, handlebar bag, and extra water/food, was about 30 Kg (66 lb). Tools, some spares, punctures repair products, and locks are of course always part of it as well as rain gear and warm clothes.
A backpack on top of the panniers is a proven good solution to hold valuables, including a notebook, to be easily removed in case the bikes must be left temporarily unattended.
Needless to say, I carried along over 3 Kg of extra clothes/stuff that I never used.


Deb and I hadn't been in the Czech Republic for almost three decades, then about time to visit this fine country again. Prague, of course, couldn't be missed, and the hilly territory of Bohemia and Moravia regions would be intriguing. Studying and searching through available online material (GPX tracks) for Eurovelo and local cycleways helped giving shape to a potential route. Best solution for logistics, driving our cars from Torino, Italy, suggested to include Austria to the route and setting the start/end in Linz seemed to be the best option for a clockwise loop featuring the hardest stages in the initial part, progressively ease off, and eventually become quiet along the Danube.
The initial idea to go through Prague, Brno, and Vienna, also included Bratislava. Planning was based on our friends’ two-week time constraint and this led to sort out twelve active stages, plus one rest day in Prague and one in Vienna.
Bratislava was left out as stages would probably be too long.


I combined official GPX tracks sections of Eurovelo EV7, EV4, EV9, EV13, EV6 (Donauradweg), and sections of various other cycleways. The estimated total distance of about 1100 Km was to be divided by 12, reasonably split accordingly to accommodation/location availability, and taking into account stages distance, climbing effort, and duration to arrival time.
At moderate elevation above sea level, the route is quite hilly. Grades are below 10% with only a few exceptions.
The most time-consuming task of the entire planning was searching/confirming all accommodations in advance, and making sure the venues could provide a safe overnight storage for the bikes. An essential condition.

There are three basic ways to conceive a long-distance tour regarding accommodation, each of which we adopted for our previous tours.
#1. No advance reservations give the maximum flexibility and freedom to decide in real-time where to stop for the night based on body and mind conditions, weather, mechanical failures, or theft. It certainly is the most adventurous modality without guarantees of finding a roof. Not all towns to be encountered may have available accommodation options, or there may not be phone data service for looking up on the internet. It takes to carry a tent, and accept to pitch it somewhere. Along with necessary emergency food.
#2. Book for the first night or two, by structures providing wifi, then search for the next one or two nights, and so on. This reduces the risks posed by physical conditions or other problems, but is a necessary time-consuming task when one would otherwise enjoy his time around the location. Or, stay up halfway through the night to secure the next stay(s). As well as for mode #1, it may be a viable solution if the duration of the tour is flexible or undetermined. Probably not so for people with finite days at disposal, or if there aren't transportation options to catch up with the rest of the route if something goes wrong for a day or two. The bigger the riding squad, the higher the risks.
#3. Booking all overnights in advance is certainly a safer option although requiring to ride with crossed fingers and the determination to make it to the next destination at all cost. Can't skip the schedule. Or, be ready to find a way to catch up - public or private transportation, or the possibility to rent a vehicle - or abort for good and find a way to resolve.


- Total 1036 Km (648 mi) and 8300 m (27,230 ft) of positive climb
- Of which, 255 Km in Austria
- 12 active stages plus one rest day in Prague and one in Vienna
- Total moving time: 70h31m
- Longest stage 118 Km with 1230 m of positive climb
- No punctures
- Extremely hot conditions for the entire duration, with days above 38C (100F)
- No rain. Just escaped a violent storm in Prague
- Excellent beer – no prior doubts about it

This tour is not suggested to novice cyclists due to demanding climbs with steep sections. Even without the extremely hot conditions we encountered. The recorded track shows grades up to 15%.
One may think that the Eurovelo cycleways would be a perfect solution for long-distance cycling. Better take it with a pinch of salt. If the intention of Eurovelo routes is to keep cyclists away from shared or high-traffic roads as much as possible, some stretches of them – as we experienced on the EV7 - actually proved quite demanding due to rough unpaved terrain, at times with large rocks or thick sand, both uphill and downhill. Cyclists with narrow road tires, and particularly those with trailers, would probably curse at the need to dismount and push for kilometers.
True upon the dry conditions we encountered, it would be much worse in the wet.

Not only a matter of terrain. Some sections of Eurovelo routes appear as unnecessary doodles on the map where beautifully paved roads with scarce traffic, and quite considerate drivers, do otherwise save miles, considerable climbing, and obviously time. During the first stages we noted that some of such “scribbles” don’t even pass through points of particular interest or beauty. As usual, I keep my old but faithful Garmin eTrex GPS unit on the handlebar bag and use it as a monitor to visually follow the track shown on the display. With some ahead-thinking, at times I opted - in agreement with the team - to avoid the intended track and otherwise follow more convenient and excellent roads. In one instance, as an example during Stage 6, such strategy saved 18 Km but, more so, 420 m of unnecessary climbing.
In this image, the intended route is in pink color while the actual track is shown in blue color. Same for Stage 8 when we saved 12 Km and 400 m of climbing.

The overall terrain, say the 95% of the entire tour, either in Austria or the Czech Republic, proved excellent. Finely paved, smooth, and free from debris or trash.
Road works in some points forced us to take detours. Some were nice, some not. On Stage 9, going around a road closure meant finding ourselves on a very rough rocky road at first, then in the grassy ruts of a field road. Should it have been wet, we’d still be stuck in the mud.
No other cyclo-tourists encountred prior to the Donauradweg section. Only saw three bikes with bags while in Prague. The handful of bikes seen around the entire tour were local riders without load.
No other cyclo-tourists on the Donauradweg going upstream like us, but many going downstream which is the typical biking direction.
No punctures for the four of us. The only inconvenient occurred was getting a cut on the side of my rear tire from a sharp rock through a very rough section of the EV9. The tubeless sealant prevented loss of air but next day I decided to install a tube for peace of mind.

Stage 1 – Linz (A) to Rožmberk (CZ) – 80 Km, 1282 m elev. +

The breakfast-included option we chose doesn't meet the expectations as it proves quite meager for the price. Upon return, when we'll stay one more night before driving back home, we won't make the same mistake.
Bikes were prepared the previous night so we're ready to go. From the Linz suburb, the first 12 Km go around the small Pichlinger See to reach the point where our loop will close upon returning. After a short ramp at 11% grade, and a couple of Km before the border, we touch the highest point of the tour – 780 m a.s.l. – where a sign indicates that the ridge is part of the north-south continental divide. Streams end up either in the Baltic Sea or in the Black Sea.

The unpaved road leads to the unattended border only marked by a small oval sign, after which a board with a map of the local nature conservation area is solely written in Czech language. A group of locals rests on a few benches under the trees without communicating. It’s very hot, but we don’t know that next days will be worse. 15 Km later we cross into Vyssi Brod where we first see the Vltava river and, as planned, local Koruna currency is withdrawn from an ATM shortly before reaching our destination for the day. Rožmberk nad Vltavou is a small quiet village wrapped around a shallow river bend, and overlooked by a perched castle. Plenty of rafts and canoes full of people enjoying the summer Sunday and the slow water flow. Our apartment on the ground floor is right across the pub where we’re having dinner past the bridge. First stage done!

Meat dishes are the local staple to go with excellent beer. Local brews are mostly Czech-style Pilsners and their alcohol content is generally expressed by the Plato scale. Values are about twice the actual alcohol percentage content. No panic then if menus list 11, 12, or 14 degrees beers. Just roughly divide such values by two to understand the alcohol content.
Fish dishes aren't common on menus. One would expect more as the route is near rivers.
Spectacular stack of pancake-like dessert (Livance) with whipped cream and jam/fruit.

Stage 2 - Rožmberk to Česke Budejovice - 65 Km, 928 m elev. +

I wake up early and kill time by taking a short walk while enjoying the cooler hours, then back in to check the rest of the crew. Our legs don't seem to feel the first stage. Loading our stuff on the bikes doesn't take long and we're out for breakfast at a bar near the main square. As usual, I can't eat much in the morning - especially if the previous dinner was abundant, and it was - so I'm good with just a glass of cold milk. The others take a look inside and make their choice among the inviting cakes on display. Huge portions, then confirming the Livance we had for dinner meets the size standards in the country.
Starting pedaling with all that food in the stomach may not be the best. Good thing then, that only 400 meters after starting, I miss a turn to the left and keep going for 4 Km before realizing we're heading in the wrong direction. Quick check then back for 4 Km to the intended turn. Maybe it was an unconscious choice as, at such turn, we must climb a 12% grade ramp. I pretend I did it on purpose to let the rest of the crew curse at me rather than at the cake in their stomach.
Ups-and-downs all day, the hardest climbs aren’t anyway longer than one kilometer.
The shorter stage allows to spend a couple of hours in the quaint city of Český Krumlov. A real jewel worth spending time in its narrow streets. Plenty of tourists share the concept and every eatery is overflown.
We manage to find a table for lunch at a semi-hidden sandwich place. There's even room for leaning the bikes on a nearby wall in the shade.
Shaded terrace (primary need!), excellent sandwiches, and very soothing cold apple cider. I'd be quite ready for a second can of it but no, it would make me tipsy.

In 30 Km we reach Česke Budejovice’s large main square and its impeccably maintained buildings. The heat makes it hard to move away from the fountain’s shade at the center of the square, but after dinner we’ll dedicate proper time for a stroll in town. The city is well known for a beer brand which, although good, may not be the best in the country.

Stage 3 - Česke Budejovice to Zvikovske Podhradi - 82 Km, 952 m elev. +

[Photo taken from Wikipedia]
Zvikovske sits where the Otava river meets the Vltava. Calling it a village is excessive although the location is famous for its magnificent medieval castle and fortified walled quarters. A trip back in time. Mostly accessed by boat, the dock is right at the promontory between the two rivers.
We stayed at a brewery – always a great idea – and walked about 4 Km to and from the fortified area after dinner. Nobody around except for a local couple walking their friendly dog. Lovely atmosphere in absolute silence at twilight, then it got dark but we managed to pass the main gate just before closing time.

Stage 4 - Zvikovske Podhradi to Prague - 118 Km, 1224 m elev. +

How can it be so hot? It puts an extra burden on the “Queen Stage”. Short climbs all day under a scorching sun. One hopes for some rain, but just some. Until 10 Km before destination, when a violent storm brewed in front of us while pedaling through an urban park along the river. Black sky, strong wind, and some hail stones without a raindrop. Not good being surrounded by trees without a shelter in sight. Let’s go as fast as possible in hope to find a safe place. Then, I spotted a white wall ahead of us which turned out to be the side of a wide tunnel under the metro train. We got there just in time. In the matter of less than a minute, maybe 30 seconds, it was havoc. In there, we joined tens of others - walkers, cyclists, mothers with strollers, even a couple of cars. The covered area was about 10 meters wide by 30 meters long. Strong wind funneled through it and we put on sweaters or rain jackets. Kids were cold and screaming. A poor mother pushing a stroller came in ten minutes late, soaked to the bone. After almost one hour in such safe haven, the storm passed to leave only a light rain. With mind going to the tremendous heat suffered every day so far, I opted for not putting the rain jacket on and sort of enjoy a few drops. As we left the tunnel, we rode on a layer of leaves and tree branches/wittings. Several large trees were broken or tipped. One has crushed a parked car. We helped each other to lift the bikes over a large felled tree on our path. Non-stop fire squad and ambulance sirens around us. We later learned that there were over eighty emergency interventions and that Prague’s main train station was partially flooded. Quite a storm, and lucky to escape it under the providential tunnel.

We stayed two nights at a nice apartment in the Mala Strana neighborhood and struggled to push our bikes through hordes on Charles Bridge (Karluv Mosti) upon arrival.
No riding next day, but walking to the Castle and joining the herd around the main city attractions.
Prague is a beautiful city liked by many. Too many. The Old Town is relatively small and, inevitably, it's where visitors concentrate.
Since our last visit, 29 years ago, it seems that the quantity of people around has doubled. Or tripled. I’d love to visit off the peak season. Hope I will, because so many people simply take the charm away.

Stage 5 - Prague to Kutna Hora - 103 Km, 468 m elev. +

Just outside of Prague, the dedicated cycle path is quite good and follows the main road but some 15 Km into the stage, road works force a detour until Cerny Most where we scratch our heads to find a way to get across – and through – the train station to access the cycle path again. After a few unsuccessful attempts, we decide to take an elevator and get one level down to the main road. Here, we find that the cycle path is shared with pedestrians on the sidewalk and on we go. Long stage but not as hilly as the previous four. We reach beautiful Kutna Hora, a UNESCO site, which hasn’t many tourists although its medieval layout and fine buildings would certainly deserve more.
Our apartment is owned by a nearby hotel where we check-in and store the bikes. Within short walking distance anyway. A pub’s raised terrace in a square provides shade, a decent meal, and excellent local “Kutna Hora” brew. Possibly, in my opinion, the best beer experience of the entire tour.

Stage 6 - Kutna Hora to Hlinsko - 66 Km, 942 m elev. +

Within Hlinsko, the ancient neighborhood/hamlet of Betlem Village Monument Reservation has nice timber-and-brick historical houses built in mid-18th century. The cozy and finely renovated two-story Penzion we chose is one of these, immersed in the green, with a detached wooden shed for the bikes.
The breakfast room is on ground level and our rooms are upstairs. Hot as they are right under the roof and there's no air conditioning, but luckily they cooled down a bit by keeping the small windows open for some time.
Excellent choice as the whole hamlet is banned to motor vehicles and suitable for a relaxing walk in the surroundings. There’s a free public concert tonight and half of the population fills the main square where the stage is set. Closest eatery to our Penzion is a pub with alfresco tables in the front garden and we take the only available one while getting welcomed by a cat lazily laying on the next bench.

Stage 7 - Hlinsko to Bystrice - 60 Km, 764 m elev. +

I woke up early and the lawn around the Penzion was a perfect spot to put a tube in my tubeless rear wheel, a safer option after the cut in the sidewall I've got two days ealier. Finished just in time to join the rest of the crew for an excellent breakfast prepared by the amiable owner. Shortly before Nove Mesto we go through its renowned bike park that hosts yearly one leg of the UCI MTB World Championship. Our accommodation is a bit outside of Bystrice. At the closest pub, by the way owned by the hotel we’re staying at, and no mention of this by the receptionist who sent us there, we learn that the kitchen closes at 6:30 PM, that is 15 minutes ago. The young lady, with merciful eyes, informs that it’s the same for all restaurants in Bystrice. Pubs are generally open until 10 PM - or 11 PM - but no food after 6:30?
No wonder why the Czechs rank #1 in the world for beer consumption. They drink to forget how hungry they are!

We walk for 2 Km and reach the village center where we had seen a supermarket open daily until 8 PM. We could at least buy some food and save the night, but a kebab place on the way seemed to be open. We went in quickly and yes, we secured huge döner and dürüm portions, and beers that we consumed while sitting on the benches in the village's square. While waiting, a couple of hungry Belgians on a trike stopped and bought some too. The guy said that, if negative, it took them to ride 10 Km to the next village where they knew they could eat something. From last year's tour in the Flanders we learned that Belgium isn't exactly a late-dining nation but Czechia seems unbeatable.

Stage 8 - Bystrice to Brno - 55 Km, 352 m elev. +

Another terribly hot day called for cutting the route in a couple of points and take faster roads to reduce the time spent under the sun. We cover the distance in three hours of moving time plus almost three hours of combined stops whenever we find some shade in desperation. When in Brno, a pharmacy thermometer in the shade reads 38C (100.4F). While riding on black asphalt, we may have easily faced 45C or more. Terrible.
The second largest city in the country is elegant and pleasant. Except for the Spielberk fortress dominating from its hill, I barely recognize the gloomy city which I had visited back in 1989 prior to the advent of democraacy. Not many tourists around which makes a huge difference when thinking of Prague. Here, it's quite good to stroll in the city center without the pressure and the oppression of the capital city tourism.
Dining at a Thai restaurant for carbohydrates intake proves a good choice. The young waiter even speaks a few words in our language.
Our unmanned accommodation is right in the city center and owned by an art gallery. Our bikes are stored behind the third of code-access gates at ground level. No reception, the code was sent to us the previous night. The tiny rooms are quiet and furniture/decoration reflect the progressive spirit of an art gallery. A very nice experience.

Stage 9 - Brno to Lednice - 80 Km, 338 m elev. +

A stop in Mikulov is more than necessary as the heat makes me dizzy. A shaded spot has benches by a public garden in a small square and we can't miss the chance. It takes a while before I'm able to speak and I can't stop drinking. We all do and soon empty the 2-liter carton of apple juice we had previously bought at a supermarket.
My two-tone skin tells we haven't spent much time in the shade.

The territory of Lednice-Valtice was the original Principate of the House of Liechtenstein. The family lived in Lednice for about 700 years. They managed to acquire present-day Liechtenstein, the tiny country squeezed between Switzerland and Austria, where the House moved in 1918 when the region became part of Czechoslovakia. The family opposed the annexation of their land to Nazi Germany, resulting in expropriation, and moved to Vaduz for good.
The area, at a stone's throw north of the Austrian border, is a Cultural Landscape under the UNESCO and features buildings of various architectural styles. Our accommodation was next to the fine Castle and its well-groomed park.

Stage 10 - Lednice to Vienna (A) - 106 Km, 539 m elev. +

Time to say goodbye to Czechia. Before reaching the border, we ride through the aforesaid area and see a few scattered features/buildings within.
Riding mostly through the woods on gravel roads is enjoyable. The last stretch of road leading to the border though is quite rough and uncomfortable. Maybe only 3 Km, but enough to jeopardize one's dentist work.
The passage into Austria would be anonymous if not for new, abundant, and well informative posted signs for Eurovelo and other cycleways.
Our tires now roll on smooth asphalt on the dedicated lane running parallel to the road.
We follow the Iron Curtain Trail only for a while as I had built the route by combining various cycling paths in order to reduce the distance to Vienna.
Some ups-and-downs all the way but nothing serious. We take advantage of a sheltered table and benches for the last stop/rest in the shade before hitting Austria's capital city, not long before passing the Danube via a motor-traffic free long bridge with ramps up and down. Then we follow the western bank of the Donaukanal leading right to the heart of the Innere Stadt (Inner City) and 6-7 Km later we are in the shadow of Spephansdom. Since our last visit years ago, all streets in its surroundings are now pedestrian/bike only - except for motor vehicles with a permit. A couple of turns here and there and we reach our accommodation, a former monastery now converted into a hotel and dormitory for students. Clean and very conveniently located.

The kind receptionist opens the Vivaldi concert room where we store our bikes - no other bikes there, what an honor.
While they get a full day of rest, we walk around the city for some 20 Km.

We're one block east of the busy Kärntner Straße, then a couple of blocks from the Graben. It's not horribly congested despite being the main shopping district. A few free stations distribute cold drinking water and the waiting lines are still manageable. On the side of such stations, nozzles spout water mist which is very, very appreciated!
For the first night we stroll the medium-busy commercial streets. Our friend Anita doesn't live in Vienna anymore but we follow her dining suggestion and the restaurant is still there. Sitting alfresco in a small square away from the crowds proves a pleasant experience and the food is good.
For our second and last night in town we head to the Naschmarkt district. Just outside the Ring, past the Opera, it's a good choice for restaurants offering varied cuisine.
We opt for Korean and have an excellent Bi-Bim-Bab, a rice-based dish which Flavio and I know well from our many visits to South Korea. The southern part of the area is a permanent street market during day hours.

Stage 11 - Vienna to Melk - 117 Km, 329 m elev. +

The Donauradweg follows the placid river between Passau and Vienna, and is Europe's most popular cycling route. Almost entirely developing on both banks, dotted with towns and villages, and well organized in terms of accommodation and bars/restaurants. A well consolidated infrastructure.
Flat and easy, no surprises. The "Dysneyland" of bike touring. Well doable by all at any level. Even for those combining it with a river cruise.
Deb and I had our rookie tour here back in 2008, from Braunau am Inn to Budapest, and riding a section of it this year brings up good memories.
The typical prevailing wind blows eastwards. We knew it, so today we ride against the 30-35 Km/h worth of it with a few stronger gusts for the first half of the stage. It then progressively eases off to a moderate breeze making us feel the heat even more under the unforgiving sun.
Our accommodation is right in front of the City Hall in Melk's main square. Our rooms are on the second floor under the roof and they are as hot as a sauna. No, let me re-phrase. Hotter than a sauna. I had experienced the worst night in my lifetime last year in Gent, Belgium. Not sure tonight would get close to that but, for one thing, at least here there are no mosquitos.
We take a walk up the stairs to the huge abbey looming above us. Closed to visits, of course, but there's a concert in ten minutes and we can at least peek inside the first courtyard where tens of Asian tourists line up for their turn of photo portraits.
Ready for dinner, we look around then end up choosing the patio/terrace of our hotel's restaurant which has a few availabe tables and a large menu board.
Our rooms face one another and we decide to open all windows and let the air to circulate by keeping the rooms' doors open. At night! I admit I had never slept in a hotel with the door open. It was a matter of survival. Almost a sleepless night. I anyway, exhausted, went out for a walk at 3 AM.

Stage 12 - Melk to Linz - 104 Km, 336 m elev. +

Last stage today with mixed feelings. A bit of sadness for the adventure is almost over, and a weather change. The substantially cooler day is an unexpected final gift for this tour. After torrid days, all of them, chances of rain put a grin on my face. The sky is partially clouded from the start and some headwind keep us company for the first 40 Km. Clouds coverage increases and we stop for a bite with ten minutes of light drizzle, although we remain dry under the thick canopy in the woods.

At some point, how about a refreshing Apfelsaft gespritz at this bar right on the path? Why not. But, why should it cost way more than beer? Paying 21 Euro and 20 Cents for four glasses of apple juice mixed with water is a theft.
And not because we're set to Czech prices.
Three-four kilometers before the very end of the tour we celebrate at the pub with one final Apfelsaft gespritz by the known restaurant in Linz. This is where we dined the night before starting the tour. The food is good and so is the beer. We reserve a table as we'll return a couple of hours later for dinner. Meanwhile, a storm is brewing and, ten minutes after we sit for dinner, the pub's personnel quicky clear all of the outside tables from stuff and ask us to move to another table. The wind picks up quickly. We're still outside but under the roof of a veranda structure that can be isolated by rolling down three sides of it. Which is promptly done electrically. A thick mesh comes down and keeps most of the strong wind out while it starts pouring. The rain exceeds the capacity of the gutters causing mini-cascades inside two corners of the structure but we're right in the middle and remain dry. The large trees outside withstood the gale but not so did a few huge vases tipped over around the property.
Going to the restaurant by car was a wise choice while the bikes sat in the pension's garage. Upon return, storm passed, we loaded them inside the cars as we planned to leave at 3 AM to hit the road ahead of traffic. Heavy rain all the way to home.


As a guideline to other travelers, should I summarize by splitting the entire route into four main sections, here's my personal opinion in a nutshell:
- Linz-Prague segment - South Bohemia - is probably the most interesting for cultural aspects. Also, the most demanding. It would be worth taking the 354 Km and 4386 m (14,390 ft) of positive climbing in more than four stages as the Vltava Cycling Route, entirely part of the EV7, is dotted with gracious towns/villages deserving attention as well as spending more time in Cesky Krumlov and Ceske Budejovice. And, Hluboka having one of the finest castles in the country - which we didn't visit.
- Prague-Brno on EV4 comes in as my second favorite segment. Less hilly and demanding, more rural, easy to navigate, considerably fewer tourists to be encountered.
- Brno-Vienna. Flatter and easier on the legs, it could be a good choice for those willing to spin wheels in two different countries.
- Vienna-Linz. The Donauradweg is highly suitable for families. Doable with any type of bike and for any desirable stage length. No surprises.

The GPS unit mounted on the cockpit, as for previous tours, proved a peerless friend without missing a turn - unless due to my lack of concentration - and for finding the best alternate route in case of road works/closures.
We didn't carry paper maps. Just offline ones on our phones for quick consultation.
English is spoken most everywhere but knowing a few essential words of the local language can be of help on top of gestures.
Credit cards are accepted most everywhere but it's wise to keep a day or two worth of Koruna currency in the pocket. General prices are affordable.
Wi-Fi was available at every accommodation.
Brutal heat. Most of the route developed through fields and crops, in open terrain, and only rarely though woods. Bright sun, cloudless for almost the entire tour, therefore the comfort of some shade was pretty scarce and stopping for some rest wasn't as frequent as desirable. Personally, I don't know how I survived such heat.
No rain, although some would have been welcome. Just some, and certainly less than the daily doses Deb and I had dealt with through 800 of the 1600 Km of a Baltic tour we took years ago.
No inconvenients or mechanical problems, no health issues, and the muscles worked well all the way for the four of us.
Pedaling at moderate pace through quiet hilly lanscapes, cycling in Czechia was a positive and rewarding experience away from the beaten paths. A very clean country overall, comfortable to visit, with well-maintained infrastructures. Many small towns and villages we rode through would be worth dedicating a little more time to visit their points of interest, which long stages didn't allow for. It just took to adapt to the local operating hours for stores and restaurants. Not too negative an experience, but it dictated our daily schedule by the need to arrive at destination within dinner hours. If in doubt, bring extra food along! Drinking water was safe and proved excellent everywhere.
It rained all the way through the drive back home. Should the tour have taken place one week later, we would have been soaked to the bone. Good timing then, just no one could expect the outstanding heat wave we suffered.

Thank you Barbara, Deb, and Flavio, for sharing the enriching adventure. A well sorted team of long-time friends ready to go through possible discomfort with a joyful high spirit and mutual support when needed. Fun, jokes, opinions, respect.
Away from home, but like at home!

The tracklog of the tour is available here:


- Likely more to appear soon -

Providential shelter during the violent storm in Prague

Celebration dinner.
Safe and sound back in Linz!

CONCEPT Last year's tour in the Flanders region of Belgium was the first with panniers for a couple of friends we toured with. They e...